“People suck” Steve said. He said this frequently.
“No, they don’t. I refuse to think that way.” I was getting weary of this conversation with my roommate. He is a real nice guy with a good heart but people, with very few exceptions, annoy him.
“Would you at least concede that a good percentage of people suck?”
“Define good percentage” I countered.
“95%, and I’m low-balling it”.
“Not even close, I said. 5% tops.”
“Well, I wish I was like you. You honestly believe that. It must be nice to be as tolerant as you”. By nice of course he really meant gullible, weak and maybe even a “sucker”.
We left it at that. There is no winner with Steve and I. He’s the competitive type who insists on a clear winner or loser, no grey areas. To me, it’s not that simple. Besides, we’ve had this conversation so many times and he has yet to get me to change my percentages. I love how much my faith in humanity, or as he would call it my “naive side”, disturbs him. To his credit, he has a few people in his life that are either bitter disappointments, terrible friends or just downright bad people. He is a good guy with a big heart but he has been burned, anyone can tell, and his inner circle is pretty hard to access. I’m one of the few people he likes and respects. I respect him as well, a lot in fact. And he stands by his numbers.
Me, I also stand by mine. I believe in people. I honestly try to live by the mantra “be nice to all you meet for they are fighting a hard battle”. I believe everyone has a reason that they act as they do. Everyone is dealing with what life is throwing at them, and the faces don’t tell the whole story. And that’s the point. You don’t know so don’t judge. I like people until I have a reason not to. Most people are decent, caring and want the same thing: to be safe, to have a roof over their heads, have food in their stomachs and for their kids to have a future. They are regular people.
People who “suck” are easily definable, bear in mind I am giving my opinion and no one else’s. Murderer’s, child rapists, any criminal who sets out with a clear head intending to hurt people. Add to that religious zealots that harm innocents, thieves who prey on the weaker among us, and those who simply lack empathy. We see those people on the news every day. To Steve’s point, those people do suck.The rest of us, even convicted criminals, may have had a reason to do what they did. And, provided they served some kind of punishment, deserve a chance to redeem themselves and receive forgiveness.
There are a lot of unpleasant or difficult people out there that deserve their own category. The power-hungry mean boss, the back-stabbing co-worker, the aggressive driver that cut you off and then gave you the finger, the list goes on. These people are known as assholes, and they too deserve forgiveness. Because they are not worthy of the anguish they cause. We are a people of forgiveness, understanding, and empathy and we can overcome almost anything.
Steve points to my life and chalks my different attitude up to my circle. As a Freemason, I know a lot of good people. As a frequent volunteer at charity events, I see a lot of nice, giving people. In my professional life, I always had friendly relationships with all of our customers and vendors. With my friends, I am usually the one laughing and slapping backs. He points to these things and says that I live in a bubble. What he fails to see is that I created my situation and the ensuing happiness. I chose to join a fraternity to meet good people; I volunteer to create a positive experience and combat bad situations, I chose to be kind to even the most difficult of professional contacts in order to work better with them; and I choose my friends based on who I want to spend my time with. I control it. The people I can’t control, I deal with them by not giving them the time or the effort. I cut them off like oxygen to a fire.
We are mired in negativity and a lot of people are acting badly. Just like John Coffey said…”I’m tired boss, I’m tired of people being ugly to each other.”
Some people suck. That is true. Anyone who celebrates death and calls 59 deaths at the hands of a shooter in Las Vegas a “community service” because they are likely supporters of the candidate who beat yours…yeah, they suck. People who attack you on social media for your beliefs…yeah they suck. But there’s a block feature or you can scroll through it. We can control it. But the more of us who believe that people suck, I hear people say it all the time and I hate it, are missing the point. We can make a point to find the good, to forgive, and for Christ’s sake let some things go without reacting to it. But don’t give up on them.